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The Art of Wycinanki

We explore the beautiful Polish paper-cutting technique.

The Art of Wycinanki

1. Where did it come from?

Polish wycinanki (pronounced vee-chee-non-kee) became a popular folk craft in the mid-1800s when shepherds would cut designs out of bark and leather. This then evolved into colourful works of art drawn on furniture or roof beams as decoration, hung in windows, and given as gifts. Nowadays the pattern is popular across the globe, and even though you probably haven't heard the name before, you'll definitely recognise the pattern!

2. How has it developed?

The Art of Wycinanki

Credit: Linda Edwards

There's an array of shapes and motifs drawn, including peacocks, roosters, medallions and flowers. In some towns and villages competitions were introduced to create the most beautiful wycinanki. Its original use was for relaxation in rural Poland – it was only when the techniques were passed through generations that new themes and ideas developed and the paper cuttings became more detailed and intricate.

3. I want to give it a try! How can I?

The main design is cut symmetrically on black or white paper. Coloured paper is then layered on top to mirror each other and create a vibrant, unique collage. Take a look at some amazing wycinanki designs here for inspiration:

The rooster is a very traditional wycinanki design, and it’s an easier one to start off with.

If you’d like to try an unsymmetrical version, this bird design will be right up your street. The overall colour overlay aspects of wycinanki are taken but the main design is a little simpler.

Flowers also make a stunning pattern, and we love what this blogger has produced. No colour has been added but we approve of the minimal effect.

If you recently read our quilling blog here, you’ll be drawn to this intricate flower design, delicately constructed using the impressive technique.

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